Law Commission to review online media

14 Oct 10

Justice Minister Simon Power has asked the Law Commission to review the regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system.
“I’ve ordered this review because it’s imperative the law keeps pace with technology and that we have one set of rules for all news media,” Power said.
"At the moment we've got two tracks – conventional media and the so-called 'new media' – intersecting with the justice system, and it's not sustainable."

Power says it’s a like the Wild West online because bloggers and online publishers are not subject to any form of regulation or professional or ethical standards.
"Issues I’m concerned about include how trials can be prejudiced by information posted on websites and seen by jurors, real-time online streaming of court cases, breaches of court suppression orders, and re-publication of a libel.
“Because of the enormous scope of this whole issue, the terms of reference for the review have been tightly defined.”
The review will look at: 

  • How to define ‘news media’ for the purposes of the law.

  • Whether and to what extent the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and/or the Press Council should be extended to cover currently unregulated news media, and if so what legislative changes would be required to achieve this.

  • Whether existing criminal and civil remedies for wrongs such as defamation, harassment, breach of confidence, and privacy are effective in the new media environment, and if not whether alternative remedies are available. 

The public gets to have its say when the commission releases an issues paper by December, 2011. 

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